Now And Then – Review: L’Artisan Traversée du Bosphore

To some perfumes we feel an immediate affinity, some we dismiss out of hand. Some perfumes capture our hearts and imaginations at first sniff, some stealthily claim their place in our hearts. Some perfumes need and take their own sweet time, until they have insinuated themselves securely into our brains and souls, and we end up unable let go of them again.

Traversée du Bosphore is such a perfume for me.

When it was released in 2010, I tried it and was put off by its (then perceived as) obvious turkish delight note, that made me feel like Hazer Baba candy. True to form for something we don’t like, it proved pretty unscrubbable too, so I was afraid to ever go near it again. But I did anyway.

First a small candle made its way into my house, and I began to appreciate Traversée as an ambient scent, and it was not so linearly gourmand to me anymore. (See my review on PST here.)

The candle made me seek out a sample and by now I have used up three samples and finally feel ready to write about it.

Created in 2010 by Bertrand Duchaufour, Traversée du Bosphore (Crossing the Bosphorus) includes notes of tobacco smoke, apple, tulips, saffron, leather, Turkish Delight (rose and pistachio) and musk.

Traversée holds all the ingredients (and clichées) you might imagine when thinking about an oriental city, from a romanticized, western perspective. Apple tea, hookah smoke, leather, loukhoum and spices – it is all there.

In Traversée it melds to a spectacular gourmand leather melange that is at once familiar and surprising.

Traversée is multi-layered and complex, while smelling astoundingly simple at times.

Opening with apple and tobacco, a sweet powdery sugar comes down over those notes like snow slowly falling and covering the landscape in a forgiving, softening and noise-quenching blanket of smooth sweetness. Over time a very soft leather note becomes apparent, not harsh and masculine, but like well-worn saddle bags, smooth and soft, but durable and hardy too.

What I love about Traversée du Bosphore is that it is so unusual. Well, there are other Turkish delights scents, you might object, like Serge Lutens Rahat Loukhoum or Keiko Mecheri Loukhoum and probably many more. And that is true, but for me Traversée is so much more than a gourmand, although that aspect is delicious.

Traversée unites aspects of gourmand, leather, oriental and powdery that results in something more than the sum of its parts.

Traversée does indeed take me on a journey, if not to Istanbul, then at least down memory lane towards my childhood memories. A seven-year old acting out a PG-rated version of Sheherazade with the neighbor’s son, a twelve-year old fascinated with Byzantine history and culture and devouring every book on the topic the local library stocks, an eighteen-year-old exploring Turkey on her first vacation with friends instead of parents…

Traversée Du Bosphore takes me back in time, bridging the gap between the girl I was and the woman I am.

Traversée du Bosphore once more drives home the reason why I love perfume so much.

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46 Responses to Now And Then – Review: L’Artisan Traversée du Bosphore

  1. Tatiana says:

    Lovely review, once again. This was a blind buy for me. I wore it three times and just couldn’t warm up to it. At this point I can’t even remember what I didn’t like about it. I let my daughter have my bottle. Now, I’m thinking that perhaps I ought to ask her to make a decant for me, so I can discover it again. There are so many fragrances I’m finding that I just need to give them time to figure out where and how they fit into my life.
    I didn’t know there was a scented candle. I must find one somewhere, I think it would be a wonderful warming fragrance during our damp, cool winters.

  2. Lady Jane Grey says:

    Istanbul is one of those cities which were simply “put” in a lovely geographical place. The other such examples for me are Sydney and Rio. They are just plain lucky ! I spent quite a lot of time in Istanbul, due to my job, and I often had to “traverser” that bridge on the picture. There’s no doubt Istanbul has a tremendous & quite magical atmosphere. Now, that was the introduction blah-blah for me to say, how disappointed I was with Traversee. I was so sure I’m going to like it, I almost bought it blind – I only didn’t do it, because another almost blind from L’Artisan a year before turned out as a mistake (Havana Vanille). Traversee wasn’t bad, I didn’t run to scrub it off – I had it on my wrist and it couldn’t bother me less to have it there. There was no “affinity” between me and Traversee. No emotions at all. Nada. 😦

  3. Sandra says:

    This is a perfume that was love at first sniff for me. I love every stage of it during any season, except perhaps in the heat of summer. Now I just need to get to Istanbul. Lovely review!

  4. andreawilko says:

    I know I have sniffed this one somewhere along the way, I just can’t recall it which means it can’t have made a lasting impression on me, I think I may seek out a candle so that I can spend some time with it but then again if I liked it, would I really want to smell the same as my candle, I can just imagine my son saying (he has a very perceptive nose at such a young age) you smell the same as that candle we have. 🙂

  5. Alexandra says:

    This is a perfume I would dearly love to love; I try it every time I pass the LAP shop. Unfortunately it just doesn’t play nicely on my skin and I get almost no sweetness from it at all – just tea and smoke, it is such a shame, just look at that lovely list of notes. Ah well there is always the hope of an epiphany, maybe I should invest in a candle…

  6. Tara says:

    Really interesting review. I tried it when it first came out because of all the buzz around it and I was also disappointed. I mostly got a very dry apple note and some Turkish Delight. It seems this one plays differently on people. I must try it again when I go to the shop (on the 21st now) because I’d love a “spectacular gourmand leather melange”!

  7. I’m a fan B, I like the idea of this as aPG rated vesion of Sheherazade (romance, mystery and allure)

  8. iodine says:

    My (love) story with TdB is very similar to yours: dismissing it at first, then madly falling in love and finding it unavoidable! After having “studied” and loved the Neela Vermeire trio (I find a deep link with Trayee, not in the smell but in the way it’s constructed and develops- I think of these two perfumes as two sister- TdB fair and pink, Trayee stouter and darker!) I asked a sample in my local Artisan shop: I ended up buying a FB after having dabbed 2 drops! I love its complex, ever surprising and multi faceted sweetness, and find it excellent also in very hot weather!
    (This morning, my partner sprayed on some (of my) Tdb while I was still sleeping. I woke up because of the delightful smell- a nice way to get up!)

  9. flittersniffer says:

    I am still at the stage of not really caring for TdB, though in fairness it is a couple of years since I tried it. I found it a bit fuzzy and rich and heavy, though the weather was perhaps too warm for it to appear at its best. I will give it another go in the light of your review, as it seems to be one of those growers!

    PS If only PG-rated meant Pierre Guillaume-rated – that’s a film I’d like to be in… ; – )

    • Olfactoria says:

      This being a perfume blog, PG does of course mean Pierre Guillaume! 😉

      It seemed heavy and fuzzy to me as well at first, thankfully that has changed.

  10. deeHowe says:

    I love this scent! Probably at least in part because of the imagery it evokes for me: the fall hunt, surrounded by crisp apples, cool air, the leather of saddles and bridles warming up on anxious horses… Mmmm. I think I’ll wear this today! 🙂

    Such a beautiful review B., I don’t know how you manage to keep your reviews so fresh and insightful day in and day out! You are truly gifted. ❤

  11. masha7 says:

    I do like TdB as a comfort scent, like a warm, fuzzy sweater. I used to live and work in Istanbul, and I can say the perfume does not remind me of the city at all. Diesel exhaust, coal smoke, smoked fish, tobacco, tea, fresh baked bread, but those won’t make a very popular perfume! I remember BD was very taken with the tulips of Istanbul, and I know this has a warm, doughy tulip accord in it, and he ate a LOT of lokum there, too! It’s a very cozy perfume.

  12. bloodyfrida says:

    okay I need to try this again.!

  13. Civava says:

    That one is one among small group of my favorites. I didn’t like it at the begining. The opening was so wierd. But as time passed by developed into a beautiful turkish delight, just not so sweet. I was immediately transported to Istambul, though I’ve never been there. YET!

  14. I am so glad that you have found love for Traversée du Bosphore. It was my first L’Artisan and turned out to be the Turkish Delight scent I had been searching for for many years. Absolutely wonderful stuff, it makes me want to go to Istanbul now!

  15. Suzanne says:

    I can’t believe I haven’t tried TdB yet! Must rectify after your tender and evocative review — especially since I find most Rahat Loukhoum fragrances too sweet. TdB sounds like a much more wearable version, especially since it embraces more than just the confectionery note.

    I’m impressed (but not surprised) to learn that you were sophisticated even as a teenager — spending your first vacation, sans parents, in Turkey. What an exotic choice!

    • Olfactoria says:

      I can’t believe it either! 🙂

      Calling turkey exotic is relative. Living where I do, it is not so far and not considered exotic, along with Greece and Italy it’s a rather commonplace vacation choice for Austrians. But that is not to put it down in any way, Turkey is beautiful and very interesting, just not as out of the way as for a Pennsylvanian. 🙂

  16. Undina says:

    Sorry, I’m late this week with both reading and commenting.

    I didn’t like Traversée du Bosphore on the first try. But later, when I tried it in warm weather, it smelled much better on me. Since then I wore it a couple more times and I think I like it enough to buy a decant and wear it from time to time.

    It’s interesting that iodine finds it similar to Trayee. My parallel was more with Bombay Bling and, for my nose, 3-4 hours into wearing they smell really similar. But with opening being very different I see a need in both.

  17. Figuier says:

    Thanks sharing your Traversee experience – I am always fascinated by the way dislike can turn to like with perfumes (and music, and poems, and…)

    Traversee was one of those much-hyped Duchaufours I was in two minds about (whereas Nuit de Tubereuse I cannot bear anywhere near me). Last winter I got through several samples of it, sometimes finding it lovely and pillowy, other times finding it grating and too much of a candy-floss gourmand for my tastes (I get zero leather). It’s partly a pride thing; I feel I’d be giving in to pink-mohair-jumper-dom if I went and bought this. However, the jury’s still out – I recently got myself another sample but will wait til winter to wear it. At the moment everything I wear is green and/or floral: Jasmine White Moss, Cristalle edt, Grand Amour edp, Lys Soleia, Lys Med…you get the picture.

    Incidentally, I have a mini candle of it, and although it’s received lots of blog love, I find it harsher and more cloying than the perfume.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Nuit de Tubereuse I can’t stand either… 😉
      TdB apparently is a perfume interesting enough for many of us to come
      back to it again and again, despite not immediately falling in love.

  18. Philipp says:

    For me TdB was love at first sniff. I bought a large bottle as well as a large candle as soon as I finished my sample vial. Funnily, I (now) like the candle more than the perfume, because TdB likes to misbehave on my skin, whereas the candle is just iris-powdered sugar perfection.

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